Emergent Literacy Design: Grrr like a Monster with R

By: Emily Childs



Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /r/, the phoneme represented by R. Students will learn to recognize /r/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (raise hands like a monster and making the "Rrrr" sound) and the letter symbol R. They will accomplish this through practice finding words with the /r/ sound by using phonemic awareness.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Ryan raced Rhett's rabbit." written on it; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with: rake, rock, cake, trip, sob, top, treat, feet; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /r/ (URL below)



1. Say: Today we are going to learn how to make the /r/ sound with our mouth. This will help us learn to say words with the /r/ sound more easily. We spell /r/ with letter R.

2. Now, let's pretend to be monsters and growl. /r/ /r/ /r/. Do you notice where your lips are? They are open. Your teeth are also open and your tongue is pressing against your top teeth and the roof of your mouth.

3. Let me show you how to find /r/ in the word write. I'm going to stretch write out in slow motion so we can hear the grrr sound when our tongues press our top teeth. Ww-rr-ii-tt-e. Slower this time: Www-rrr-iii-ttt-e. There it was! I felt my tongue press the roof of my mouth and my top teeth.

4. Let's try this tongue twister. "Ryan raced Rhett's rabbit." Everybody say it together three times fast. Now, let's stretch the /r/ and the beginning of the words. "Rrrryan rrraced Rrrhett's rrrabbit." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/r/yan /r/aced /r/hett's /r/abbit."

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use the letter R to spell /r/. Capital R looks like a bump then a slide. [Demonstrate the following on the board so students can copy the model]. We want to start at the rooftop and go all the way to the sidewalk in a straight line. Next we want to start on the rooftop line and make a bump to the fence so it touches the line on the fence. Next, we start at the fence and go diagonally to the sidewalk. Let's try a lowercase R now. We want to start at the fence, go down to the sidewalk, then come straight back up and curve the end like we are making a little c. This means our R should not end on the fence, but just under it since it curved out.

6. Ask different students the following questions: Do you hear /r/ is board or foot? Drift or fox? Mat or trap? Tray or fell? Now, get the whole class involved and say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move in some /r/ words. Hold up your hands like a monster if you do. Rat, fast, cat, part, bust, table, rust, pool, gust, rhyme.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with R. Can you guess?" Read story drawing out any /r/ on the page. Ask students if they can think of other words with the /r/ sound. Get students to make up a silly-named creature using /r/. Next, have all of the students write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of the creature to display.

8. Show RAKE and model you can distinguish the difference between rake and rock. Say: The R tells me to grrr like a monster, so this word is rake. You try some: FROG: frog or dog? TREAT: treat or feet? SOB: sob or top? TRIP: cake or trip?

9. For assessment, the worksheet will be distributed. Students are to color the pictures and circle the /r/ sound. Then, have the students individually come up to you and read what the words on the page that include the /r/ sound.



1. Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 805-812.   

2. Murray, Bruce (2012). Making sight words: Teaching word recognition from phoneme awareness to fluency. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus.

3. Assessment worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/prek_wrksht/learning-letters/r2.htm

4. Monster clip art: http://www.aperfectworld.org/cartoons.html


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